Lost Files: The Autopsy of a Breakup

Lost Files: The Autopsy of a Breakup

Hey, people! I was sifting through unpublished blog posts (turns out, there are dozens) and came across one that, unfortunately, always seems to be in season. It was a tad engrossing to look back on this post, which I believe is close to 18 or 19 months old and compare it to my current situation, which thankfully is much different, much healthier. Nevertheless, breakups suck ass.

Oddly enough, I wrote a blog that started similarly to this post below (you can read it here). In it, I said:

I battled myself over and over about whether or not to share the story about the break up, because having yourself (metaphorically) ripped open and laid bare feels like it should accompany an exorcism of all accompanying feelings on paper.

But I decided against it.

Well, it’s old news now, but will still raw and relevant to some of you, I’m sure. Here’s how the blog was actually written the first time around.


Going through a break-up is akin to getting murdered but living through it. When people describe heartache as a physical pain, they’re not exaggerating.

I am feeling it intensely as I write this.

I battled myself over and over again about whether or not to share this, but experiencing a feeling of having yourself ripped open and laid bare feels like it should accompany an exorcism of all accompanying feelings. And I’m selfishly hoping for catharsis along the way.

Maybe it’ll help someone else going through it. Maybe me.

I’ve been in a relationship for just over a year. Or at least I was. Until last Friday.

Let me be the first to admit that this was not a perfect relationship, though none are. We had a couple of false starts in the beginning (me being a commitment-phobe) along with a series of increasingly frequent arguments toward the end.

The arguments got to the point that I uttered the now-infamous words, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” That was last Friday night.

And that was the truth. “This” was a reference to the arguments. Arguments aren’t a death sentence to a relationship, but they’re a caution flag. It was a truth in our case, as well.

To get to the bottom of a disagreement, though, you have to be honest with yourself and each other. Take a deep breath, and get to the bottom of why you’re arguing, why it’s getting so intense, and what it says about your future prospects together.

And not to overreact with an “oh shit, we’re arguing a lot, this must be fatal to our relationship” type of response, no matter how difficult that is.

I fell into that trap.

Admittedly, we were honest – always honest – but maybe not forthcoming enough with regard to our feelings. Or quick enough to have a harder conversation before it led to what it ultimately led to – the end.

We broke up that Friday night, but with what felt like a huge haze of doubt and sorrow over the event. It was over, but it didn’t feel permanent. Especially since we’d both agreed that maybe we just needed to step away and take a breather; a mutual decision.

It seemed honest enough.

Less than 12 hours later, I was at lunch with a close friend, explaining to him how things had gotten to this point. He absorbed it all, piece by piece, and asked me point blank – do you love her?

I didn’t hesitate. I knew that I did. I told him yes.

Being the friend that he is, he told me that I should put my fork down and walk right out of the restaurant to call and tell her that. To not let another minute go by where not only was she reminded of it, but to say something that a night of good sleep had made clear for me – this argument, or series of arguments, had become a part of us, but did not define us.

So I called. I poured my heart out into the receiver, to her ear on the other line. But surprisingly, she held her ground.

She told me she appreciated the call and loved me, too, but thought we’d both be well served by a real break.

I was a little taken back, but did my best to take it at face value and support her nonetheless. Just because I needed less than 12 hours to clear my head didn’t mean she would automatically operate the same way.

Oh, compromise.

A week later, though, it became evident to me that space wasn’t clearing her head; it was complicating it. Her other life issues came cascading down all at the same time. Life, work, location, family, and so on.

She cried into my arms on the night she cemented our fate, just two weeks later – she needed time, she needed clarity, and it needed to end, even if somewhere in her heart there was still hope.

Man, they’re not even looking at each other. They must’ve broken up. They’re so coddamn sad! Wahhhhh!

But to me, the message was clear – whatever she loved about me and hoped for with me wasn’t as great as whatever she feared; whatever she doubted.

She didn’t – doesn’t – see it the same way. It’s a murky gray area for her while I’m seeing black and white.

Our work was cut out for us, to be certain. Staying together and working things out may have only delayed the inevitable, or made it likely that we’d break up more dramatically the next time.

But a very big part of me believed we were capable of so much more.

And that’s what the difference is. I believed that if there was hope and love, then there was no question about what to do – you work on it.

She thought otherwise, and I’m having a hard time with that.

As painful as it can be to have someone tell you that they don’t love you anymore, or that you didn’t do enough to show them you cared, at least you can sit back and point to that reason as an explanation.

I have no such luxury. I know she cares, and I know I showed her that I did, too.

Instead, I have pieces and question marks. Incomplete wish lists and unfulfilled dreams. I know better than to think that break-ups can be tidy, particularly when they’re between two good, honest people. We care a great deal for each other and that hasn’t changed. She loves that I loved her and she loves that she loved me, but we need our space, or more specifically, she needs hers.

For progress. For clarity. For now.

But what now? The fallout from a painful break-up is always immense. It’s like being at the top of a mountain, then being dropped off of it back at the bottom. And it had taken you so long to get to the peak that you were on. You worked at it, you cried and you fought to get there.

And now, any evidence of your work is gone. You’re at the base again, and worse, you no longer have a climbing partner.

Many times a day, I feel like I’m actually suffocating. I can’t catch my breath, my heart is pounding and there is blood pulsating through my temples. I feel it.

I’ve eaten 2 meals in 2 days, 800 calories in all (I’ve counted).

I am filled with moments of deep, deep sorrow, and moments of deep anger (but far more of the former).

I wonder if I’m worthy of love, and wonder if the failing of my relationship is a reflection of me; a failing person. Even though I know that’s not true.

Each of those things is patently stupid on the outside. I used to flippantly tell people to get over themselves or that the person they’d become estranged from was some four letter word.

When you’re in it – buried deep in the center of it – none of that is helpful or true. It’s an insult.

This girl is looking away, outside a window. She’s obviously really sad or whatever.

No part of me wants to feel the emotional and physical pain I’m experiencing right now, and worst of all, the one person I’d normally go to isn’t even mine to go to.

I have hunger pains every day but I literally can’t stomach the idea of a full meal; it makes me nauseous.

When I’m in a lonely, sad moment, I want to cry and stay behind a closed door. I don’t want anyone to see me or hear me or help me. I just want to be isolated, unless that one person that I’m missing is willing to take me from that moment – even though I know that can’t happen.

When I’m angry, I feel embarrassed. Anger feels like an immature reaction to being hurt, but I’m only speaking for myself in that regard. Since I believe it, though, I feel ashamed for allowing myself to get so far from a balanced, emotional center that I could allow this circumstance to affect me like that.

And I wonder if I’m worthy of love. That isn’t an attempt to play the martyr or a ploy to drum up the sympathy of others. It’s a genuine doubt, albeit a small one, that wonders if my insecurities are too deep, my body too soft or my spirit and heart too insufficient to not only draw someone in, but to keep them there.

I fear never getting over that hump. That I might perpetually be a real-life Good Luck Chuck; a launch pad for women to find husbands with qualities that I lack (no joke, the three relationships I was in prior to this one were all with women who are either now married or engaged to be).

But my greater fear is finding someone who will decide one day that they don’t love me anymore. A one-plus year relationship is far from a lifetime, but it’s a condensed version of what scares me.

Am I enough? And if I am, will someone see me like that forever?

Does this story have a happy ending?

She is the cloud that hovers over me. I am now constantly going, constantly moving. Every weight I lift, every mile I bike, and every time I punch the heavy bag, I am trying my fucking hardest to escape the overwhelming power of her energy around me.

But she’s there. As sure as the air I breathe, she’s present in me. It’s not getting easier, either. Less dramatic, maybe, sometimes. But the sight of her smile is etched in my eyes. I miss holding her close to me, one hand around her waist, the other cupping the back of her head, bringing every part of her to me for a kiss.

I miss her insecurities and her constant fear of something or everything all at once – of what might be, of what might not be, and everything in between.

There was comfort in being her ‘person,’ that go-to soul that could soak in all of her quirks and comfort and love her just the same. It was a point of pride for me – to be something firm in her life, while the rest of it seemed in perpetual disarray.

It gave me worth and value; a sense of purpose and a force for good in someone else’s life.

The truth is, all of this evaluation and ‘making sense of it’ dialogue is a crutch for a broken heart. It’s a way to hold onto the past while living in a post-apocalyptic (break-up) present.

She does not belong to me, and all I have of her is memories of times when she was mine. I derive worth from that because it was at a time in my life when I felt worthy of it, and now I’m just wishing I still could feel that way.

I want her. I miss her.

Along the way, there are moments of catharsis, albeit fleeting. There was validation in knowing, confidently, that I’d emptied my heart, soul and effort into providing her with clarity regarding my intentions, my love and my commitment. I’ve never been there before.

In fact, our post-break-up moments have shown me a depth of love within myself that I didn’t know I was capable of prior.

But it’s a consolation prize at the end of the day – like a seed that’s awaiting a harvest that may never come.

The truth is, I want an explanation, or at least I think I do. Deeper yet is a yearning to understand why I wasn’t enough.

But I know better.

Even the clearest explanation in the world won’t put me any closer to the first step in healing. It’s not even a Band-Aid; it’s a diversion. As long as I’m seeking an explanation that I can wrap my head around, then she’s not gone.

But the real truth is one I already know – she chose something else over me, and that’s it. It’s that simple.

Greater than her love for me, greater than her hope or trust for me, and greater than her desire for me was her desire to have space. To take time, to seek clarity.

She wanted a clear head more than she wanted me to love her.

If that sounds like a guy with a fair amount of self-awareness, you’d be right. Despite her insistence that she loves me but needs to do this for herself, I think I know better.

Call me a pessimist, or a realist, but those just sound like cop-outs for a lack of courage to do the harder thing: break-up with a good guy, whom you have very little to speak ill of.

Do I believe one day she could come back to me? Yeah. But I know what I have to offer, and she does, too.

I think that should be enough.


It’s crazy what a difference 18 or 19 months makes. I actually started and ended another relationship since then, and started a new one that I’m thankfully still in. If you’re still reading after the 2,300 word mark to this point, I’ll tell you this – I’m glad I wrote all of this when the emotions were raw. I actually don’t recall feeling the break-up as intensely as you’ve just read it, but the words are there to prove it – I took it hard, even though I’m the one who dumped her. Go figure. But it also serves a two-headed reminder.

  1. Trust your gut/instincts. I broke up with this girl for a reason, or several. That didn’t mean I didn’t love her or care for her, but it did mean I was confident enough that we shouldn’t be together. I spent weeks, probably months, knowing that this was a possibility, so it’s not like I rushed to a rash decision. Which leads me to point two…
  2. Don’t trust your emotions after you’ve trusted your gut. I made the decision to break up with her on a clear conscience, even though it was an extremely difficult decision. But it’s evident to me now that the emotions I was feeling afterward were largely a reaction to loneliness and some real questions about my self-worth. The breakup was the right decision, and my gut instincts were right.

















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